Iron biology of schistosomes: molecular characterisation and vaccine potential of iron homeostasis proteins

Amber Glanfield (2009). Iron biology of schistosomes: molecular characterisation and vaccine potential of iron homeostasis proteins PhD Thesis, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland.

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Author Amber Glanfield
Thesis Title Iron biology of schistosomes: molecular characterisation and vaccine potential of iron homeostasis proteins
School, Centre or Institute School of Population Health
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-12
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Associate Professor Malcolm Jones
Professor Donald McManus
Dr Danielle Smyth
Total pages 121
Total colour pages 18
Total black and white pages 103
Subjects 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract/Summary Iron is a trace element required for a range of metabolic reactions in virtually all living organisms. Studies of prokaryotes, plants, yeast, and vertebrates have established detailed information on iron uptake and the role iron plays in metabolic processes. Iron is an essential growth requirement of schistosomes in vitro and schistosomes also express the highly conserved iron storage protein ferritin. However, studies into how this iron is taken up by the parasite have been neglected. This study aims to identify molecules involved in iron uptake and homeostasis in the human parasite Schistosoma japonicum. I have characterised two isoforms of a divalent metal transporter (DMT), a membrane bound protein of schistosomes. These DMTs have significant homology to the mammalian DMT1, the primary ferrous iron uptake protein of the intestinal brush border. Both schistosome isoforms displayed functional iron uptake by rescuing growth in a yeast strain deficient in iron uptake (fet3fet4). Interestingly schistosome DMT1 was localised to the tegument and not the gastrodermis of adult parasites, suggesting surface mediated iron uptake across the tegument. In physiological conditions, iron is abundant as largely insoluble ferric iron and hence ferric reductases are an essential component of iron uptake, reducing iron to the soluble ferrous form. Cytochromes b561 (Cyts-b561) are a family of ascorbate reducing transmembrane proteins found in most eukaryotic cells. Recent observations that Cyts-b561 may be involved in iron metabolism have opened new perspectives for their physiological function. Here, I have identified a new member of the cytochrome b561 family in Schistosoma japonicum that localises to the tegument of this trematode. Expression of the SjCytb561 in a Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutant that lacks plasma membrane ferrireductase activity (fre1fre2) was able to rescue the growth defect in iron deficient conditions, suggesting involvement in iron metabolism. Plasma membrane ferrireductase activities were also quantified using intact transformed yeast cells. These data further support the hypothesised tegumental uptake of host iron. Further, I have identified a putative schistosome transferrin. In mammals, transferrin is a glycoprotein responsible for binding and transporting iron in the bloodstream and delivering iron into cells via a specific transferrin receptor. Preliminary characterisation of the schistosome transferrin sequence has revealed it does not contain all the conserved amino acid residues associated with iron binding, with conservation seen only in the C-terminal lobe, not in both the N and C-lobes observed in mammalian transferrins. This difference makes it unclear whether the schistosome transferrin shares functional homology with its mammalian counterpart. In addition, no transferrin receptor has been identified to support an iron trafficking and uptake function, nor would this function be expected in an acoelomate organism. Further characterisation and localisation of this protein is required to elucidate its biological significance and function. The tegumental location of both the SjDMT1 and the SjCytb561 for the uptake of host iron make it possible to consider these proteins as potential vaccine candidates. A preliminary vaccination study with these proteins elicited only low to moderate protection from infection, and further studies are required to fully assess their potential. The data presented in this thesis provide evidence for surface-mediated uptake of iron by adult schistosomes, and represent the first characterisation of iron uptake proteins in any helminths. These studies show a novel method of iron uptake in schistosomes, and contribute to our understanding of how these parasites are able to survive and thrive by scavenging nutrients, in this case iron, from the host organism.
Keyword Schistosomiasis
Iron Uptake
ferric reductase
Additional Notes colour pages: 17,46,47,50,51,54,63,64,67,70,77,78,81,82,88,97,120,121. Landscape: none A3 pages: none

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Created: Mon, 24 May 2010, 09:55:49 EST by Ms Amber Glanfield on behalf of Library - Information Access Service